Peter Frampton in the Guinness Book Of Records. Frampton Comes Alive is the biggest selling live album of all time.
He was on The Simpson’s and just for the record – he never did buy Pink Floyd’s pig.
He’s also one damn hell of a nice guy to boot. Peter Frampton talked to Paul Cashmere in 2000.
PC> Well we’re catching up with Peter Frampton, out here with The Ultimate Rock Symphony and this is something pretty different for you isn’t it?
PF> Yes, I actually was part of the sort of prototype concert, which was the British Rock Symphony, which started in New York a couple of years ago. In fact, Roger (Daltry) was not part of the scheduling, so I did the first three shows and then I believe he continued and did the rest and then they’ve done England, Europe I believe and then they’re going to do America, so I had a little taste of it, which was great. And then when they asked me to do this. I hadn’t been to Australia in so long. It was a really good opportunity to come here.
PC> It’s also an opportunity to sing a few covers along the way. What have you selected for us?
PF> Yeah well, Jumpin Jack Flash because I did that as a version myself and that’s a Stones one. And then I do George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which I get to really get into some nice licks, which is good. It goes on a bit, which is good. And then I’m doing Baby I Love Your Way. It was very hard to choose one of my own because I think obviously there’s three that the people really wanted to hear and that’s Show Me The Way, Baby I Love Your Way, and Do You Feel Like We Do. I can’t do Do You Feel because then they’d have to get rid of six acts. It’s too long and Show Me The Way and I think, yes it has the talkbox, Baby I Love Your Way doesn’t. But for me Baby I Love Your Way has probably been the most important song in my career, because not only have I done it, but various other people have had some big success with it as well. So as a songwriter as well as a singer I enjoy doing that.
PC> You aren’t reprising your Sgt. Pepper performance I noticed.
PF> No I’m not doing any of that.
PC> How do you feel about that movie now, I mean that just got bagged didn’t it?
PF> Oh yeah, it’s a dead issue really. It’s something that obviously I wish, or maybe it’s not obvious, but I wish I had not been part of it. Alice (Cooper) was part of it and I believe he said the same thing too. It was just, we were really led up the garden path with that one. Paul McCartney was… well I was told that Paul McCartney was supposed to be in the movie, and that really gave it… that sanctioned it as far as I was concerned, because if a Beatle was part of it… Well I’ve always felt, to this day actually that unless you do a Beatles or a Stones number your way and pay tribute to it, that’s fine, but if you try and copy the Beatles then I don’t know, it’s sacrilegious.
PC> It must be that bloody Robert Stigwood’s fault, never trust an Aussie!
PF> There you go. I forgot. Of course he is an Aussie, but he definitely is a bold faced liar.
PC> We had Foo Fighters out here a couple of weeks ago and they were emulating some of those sounds of Do You Feel Like We Do and they’re giving you credit on stage saying the inventor of the sound…
PF> Wow! You know it’s very strange, I’m a huge fan of theirs to start with and I just heard that they’re trying to get hold of me and I figure it’s something to do with that. I would just love to find out when they’re doing their next album and come and jam with them because that would be just a thrill because I love their records. I think they’re really good.
PC> That particular effect that you had, explain, what was it?
PF> A talkbox. In fact, we’re going to be coming out… Well you know Mark you just met? I’m starting a company in fact called Framptone and we’re coming out with a little amp switcher first. But for the next thing, which is a test thing, a prototype, and then we’re coming out with the Frampton talkbox. So that will be out very soon. But basically it’s a speaker in an airtight box, so that the sound, you don’t send the sound of the guitar through the amp speaker, you send it through this little speaker on the floor and there’s just one way out for the sound to come and you put a tube over that so the sound of the guitar comes up that tube and you put it in your mouth and that becomes a new set of vocal chords basically. Then you mouth the words, over-annunciate and that’s how you get the sound. You can put anything through. Stevie Wonder put a synthesiser through, which I tried, and then it sounds more like a vocoder, which is like what Cher used.
PC> Okay, the Frampton Comes Alive album got you in the Guiness Book of Records. For a guy who basically, you’re just a singer in a rock and roll band and suddenly you end up in a book like that, what kind of an effect did that have on you?
PF> The whole success of Frampton Comes Alive is sort of surreal in a way, because I don’t wake up in the morning, and didn’t then either, and go “Oh I’m fabulous, I’m the biggest star in the world”.
PC> But you were!
PF> Well, yeah, but I’m very lucky that my makeup is that maybe I had about two weeks of being the most big-headed guy in the world. Because it was like, well I was overjoyed with the success obviously. But then I’ve always had my feet on the ground. It’s just something that isn’t me. But I still felt very honoured. It’s up around seventeen million now, which I still don’t believe it, but the thing that amazes me the most is that it’s now being played by the sixteen year olds. We were saying, like what Roger was saying downstairs at the press conference was that everyone is going back to the more retro stuff, because I think every new generation has to have their music that their parents hate. It’s very difficult for me to hate any sort of music, but my kids have found some, and they’ve got their generations music. But then we only had a few years of rock music, once we got our Beatles, but now we can go all the way back to ’54 or whatever it was when rock and roll started and they’ve got an immense amount of great music to pull from. I realise now when we went out last year in the summer and did a lot of these city fests and things like that where they shut down the streets and they had the whole… like in Cincinatti or Chicago and we’d have like 60,000 people and I’d see the artists out there and Goo Goo Dolls or something would be out there and I thought those kids won’t be there when I go on, and there they were singing the words. So that was the biggest shock and thrill at the same time to see that the music is lasting and mine is one of those records that really seems to have lasted.
PC> Well we mentioned the Simpsons earlier on. Has your awareness elevated as a result of that show?
PF> Yes, I mean it’s quite amazing. In fact I’m still very very friendly with all the people from that show because we just teed off and so I was just out there, and they keep on giving me new scripts. They let me read the scripts before they’re released. It was a real big thrill to be asked and then the response to it worldwide. I didn’t realise how big the Simpsons were. I was always a huge fan but I thought this was just America, but it’s not, and that episode seems to be one that gets played quite a lot. It gets played a lot more than a lot of the others, because I guess when a station buys a series, they don’t have to play all of them, they’ve got them all there to choose from, so that’s great.
PC> … and just for the record, you never owned the pig…
PF> No, no, I never found it.
PC> … but it wasn’t based on reality though, you never actually purchased that pig.
PF> No, I didn’t [laughs].
PC> You’ve had a fairly consistent recording career through the nineties, you’ve put out a couple of solo albums. Is this something that’s going to move on to this decade?
PF> Yeah, the last two years have been preparing for this year. I’ve got eight CD’s of catalogue coming out in the states and we’re working on worldwide as well, as well as I’ve got a DVD coming out, live in Detroit, which we filmed in high definition and I mixed in 5.1 surround sound, which is just… I never want to listen to stereo again, for a live concert, because you’re sitting there and there’s people clapping behind you. So it’s an amazing sound, so we got that. Last year, when I wasn’t on the road I was working on the new Cameron Crowe movie, the new movie, which is about a man called Stillwater in 1973. Whether the film is going to be called Stillwater, I don’t know, but there’s still no title. It’s his next film after Jerry McGuire, and I wrote two songs for the band in there and I was also the technical adviser for the band in there to hopefully turn them into rock stars and I worked very hard on that and I’m in the movie for about this (small amount) long, as long as I don’t end up on the cutting room floor, and I play Reg Humblepie’s road manager, so there’s another thing which has just got green lit as they say in the movie business, I’m doing a VH1 called The Rouges, which again is about a band, I know I said I would never do anything with a band again, but I got to write all the material and we would then go back and record the music in March and film it in April.
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